Every now and again you hear someone say that a person 'needs a hug'. It's become a sarcastic put-down, depicting a needy or over- precious, self-involved mini-me mentality.
Given the battering we as a people have taken, no one should be surprised at the need for a little TLC. In fact, the Civil Defence should be on every street corner handing out comfort blankets and we should be getting envelopes with happy pills - remember the iodine? The default position for most of us when put under pressure is to pull up the drawbridge and retreat behind whatever emotional shield we can find. As REM sang, 'everybody hurts sometime'. But where do we go to find the strength to keep on keeping on?
The voice from the pulpit has spoken over the heads of the people for too long, it now bounces back with a hollow ring. Pope Francis is trying very hard but the old guard are holding him back. The Dalai Lama is also living proof that rocky is the road of the peace maker. Perhaps we have become too used to being followers. If we just reached out more to each other - having first reached into ourselves - we might find the connections to the real truths that give meaning to our private struggles. We are the culmination of the efforts of all who have gone before us, and our children need us to lay down safe and peaceful paths.
Didn't some long-haired bohemian from another time say love thy neighbour; and then there was that Scouser who said 'all you need is love'.
A smile, a baby's gurgle, a child's reaching arms, a hand-shake or even a friendly greeting can be enough to lift a leaden heart. So let none of us say we can't do our bit.
Greystones, Co Wicklow
When will Kenny see 'reason'?
I have spent the last two days listening to my Government implying I am not being "reasonable" with respect to the current water charges issue. My husband and I both work full-time so we can afford to run our modest family home and pay for the significant mortgage shortfall on the apartment we unfortunately bought in 2008 before the property crash (which the government and banks directly caused). Is that not reasonable to Mr Kenny?
We pay property tax and tax on any rental income on a property we do not want, but which we cannot sell due to negative equity and the fact that the Government has done nothing to help us and people like us. Is that not reasonable to Mr Kenny?
I have my child in full-time childcare which breaks my heart every day. I also cannot give my child a brother or sister as we cannot afford the childcare costs it would incur with us both having to work to meet bills. Is that not reasonable to Mr Kenny?
I spent eight years gaining an advanced education in order to contribute to this economy and earn enough money to support my family. Despite a recent salary increase, I receive only €60 per month extra take-home pay due to the significantly increased PAYE and USC I must pay. I still cannot afford to pay into a pension fund despite being in my 30s now. Is that not reasonable to Mr Kenny?
And now, because I am refusing to spend what very little disposable income I have on yet another tax for water charges - which I already pay for many times over in the array of other taxes I pay - Mr Kenny and his Government imply that I, and others like me, are unreasonable. Shame on them. Enough is enough. It is Mr Kenny and this Government who are not being "reasonable".
Time to call off the protests
The anti-austerity, anti-water charges groups have succeeded in their campaign. They have to be credited with harnessing the public anger and forcing the Government to make the changes recently announced.
But now they should fold up the tent and get off the stage.
We have to be honest and recognise that we have to pay something towards the provision of clean, drinkable water. There is no pot of money available through higher or alternative taxes. They have won the war; let them keep their powder dry for future battles.
Tuam, Co Galway
New package, same charges
With great fanfare, the Government announced the new water charges on Wednesday.
At first glance, I thought it was good, with the cost being reduced to €3.70 per 1,000 litres, plus the payment of the €100 'conservation grant' - but how that is going to encourage conservation, I have no idea.
On a quick calculation I estimated that I would be paying less than originally envisaged, when the first charges were announced - or so I thought. Then later, I realised that they were abolishing the 30,000 free litres for each household and the water charges tax relief announced in the last Budget.
So, I re-calculated and found that if a two-person household used 70,270 litres in a year, this would cost €260, less the 'conservation grant', meaning a net cost of €160.
Then I calculated the same usage under the original charges, allowing myself the free 30,000 litres, and charging the remaining 40,270 litres at €4.88 per 1,000 litres and arrived at a sum of €196.52, less tax relief of €39.30, giving me a net cost of €157.22.
Unbelievably, the new charging structure is costing households more, where they only use up to 70,270 litres, and it is the same result for single-occupant households where they only use up to 43,240 litres. The way the new charges were announced, you would have thought that every household was going to have lower charges. Not so, and this Government thinks it has all been put to bed now.
Portmarnock, Co Dublin
At least we can still have a bath
So convinced am I that Enda is right, I did it. So convinced am I that Leo has the health of the nation back on track, I did it. And so convinced am I that Michael will have money gushing back into the economy, I did it.
Yes folks, I stared down my own financial demons, ripped off the financial shackles that held me down so long, looked to the future with confidence and, and . . . had a bath. On behalf of the Irish people, I would like to thank the Troika for bringing us back to the Promised Land.
Address with editor
Balance so lacking in the media
The hysteria being promoted by the Irish media in relation to the water charges in a country that has had an €80bn bailout and is, as a consequence over-borrowed, shows the Irish media in very bad light.
The lack of any balance in the coverage of the Irish water issue is nearly as damaging to the health of our democracy as the failure of most of the Irish media to challenge the decisions of the powerful during the boom, since those decisions eventually bankrupted the country and necessitated the bailout.
Sutton, Dublin 13
Pledge to protect our children
I was delighted to see the Taoiseach found time to meet Louise O' Keeffe, who won her long struggle for justice in the European Court of Human Rights. After listening to her interview on 'Prime Time', I do hope Mr Kenny and his Government take on board every word this brave lady had to say and come up with some positive answers before Christmas, as promised. Remember, this is about protecting vulnerable children in our schools.
Brian Mc Devitt
Glenties, Co Donega